The Chicago Bulls have Tom Thibodeau in limbo and the team has now fired the head coach over making a trade this offseason, as the front office and Thibodeau have been at odds and this comes as the team may look at trade deals with Taj Gibson or Mike Dunleavy as they bring back Jimmy Butler on a restricted free agent deal that probably will be a max contract.
The Bulls and Thibodeau have looked like they are headed for a split all season, as reports came out this year that he would be let go no matter how good the Bulls did in the playoffs. After the postseason ended the speculation started running rampant about Thibodeau and his future, as he was linked to the Orlando Magic job, while other reports had him potentially getting traded over getting fired.
UPDATE: Tom Thibodeau has just been fired by the Chicago Bulls. Check here for the full statement from the Bulls on the move. The team could potentially look at Scott Brooks or Jeff Vabn Gundy as replacement options.
The Bulls have Thibodeau under contract and that is why the trade option came up, as the team was looking for a way to get rid of Thibodeau without trading him. The Bulls reportedly were thinking of waiting out the open coaching jobs before making a move on Thibodeau, while other reports said Thibodeau might sit out the season over helping the Bulls facilitate a trade. Marc Stein at ESPN now reports that the Bulls are coming to their senses with Thibodeau, as they are "giving increasing consideration to firing" Thibodeau over making a trade.
Sources reported to Stein that the team may end up simply terminating Thibodeau over making a deal, as the process is appearing to be too difficult at this time, as Thibodeau may not cooperate. The team owes Thibodeau $9 million over the next two years and that could be one option, while Ken Berger at CBS Sports reports that Thibodeau could end up sticking around and coaching the team one more season. That is looking unlikely, but in the NBA stranger things have happened.
The Bulls may still try trading Thibodeau, but right now it looks like a parting of the ways is the likely outcome. The Bulls may consider trading Taj Gibson this offseason to help free up some cap space, as they have Jimmy Butler in line for a max contract. Butler had his best season and earned the most improved player award and as a restricted free agent he is about to get paid. Butler set career highs in rebounding and points per game this season and he looks wise for turning down a contract extension earlier last year.
Butler comes in after averaging 20 points and nearly six rebounds per game with three assists and he helped keep the team afloat when Derrick Rose was injured. Some teams may try and offer Butler a max contract, but the Bulls can match any offer this offseason, as Butler is an RFA. The Lakers reportedly will offer Butler a contract, while the Spurs also could be an option if Tim Duncan retires.
Butler is a key player for the Bulls and according to USA Today, Butler said that he is happy in Chicago and wants to stay with the team. The Bulls will have to pay up and they have previously pushed out that they will match any offers that Butler gets on the market. Butler is just 25 and is and up and coming player, so if the Bulls aren't careful they could end up losing him.